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Russian Space Projects

Flyaway

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Google translation:

The first launch of the Gonets-M communication satellites on the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle is scheduled for late September. This was reported by TASS a source in the rocket and space industry.

“The first launch of the Gontsov this year is tentatively scheduled for September 20,” the source said. According to the source, the Soyuz-2.1b rocket will be launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
 

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Also apparently Angara A5 is being in preparation for transportation to Plesetsk. Which is interesting, didn't knew it's gonna fly this year.
 

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European specialists at Baikonur began to prepare the ERA robo-arm for launch on the ISS
Google translation
"Experts from ESA and Airbus Defense and Space arrived at Baikonur on October 22 and started working with the ERA manipulator on October 23," Pischel said.
According to the head of the ESA permanent mission, the specialists will work at the cosmodrome in close cooperation with representatives of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation until early - mid-November. "This is the first of several planned trips of ESA specialists to Baikonur as part of the preparation of the manipulator for launch," said Pishel.
 

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OneWeb spacecraft arrived at Vostochny

The spacecraft of the British company OneWeb arrived at the Ignatievo airport (Blagoveshchensk) on an An-124-100 aircraft. Specialists of the Vostochny Space Center (a branch of the Center for Operation of Ground-Based Space Infrastructure Facilities, part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) have already transported them to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, where they will be prepared for the launch scheduled for December 2020 on the Soyuz-2.1 carrier rocket b "with the Fregat upper stage.

This launch will be the first fully commercial from Vostochny. In addition, it will also be the first launch for OneWeb by the French company Arianespace from this launch site. Glavkosmos (a subsidiary of the Roscosmos State Corporation) is responsible for launching OneWeb vehicles using Soyuz-2 launch vehicles under contracts with the French company Arianespace and the Russian-French Starsem.

On November 2, 2020, two dispensers and auxiliary ground equipment were delivered to Vostochny for OneWeb spacecraft. From November 12 to December 1, in accordance with the technological schedule, work is underway to refuel the Fregat upper stage, after which it will be delivered to the assembly and test building for the assembly of the space warhead.

Currently, the constellation of OneWeb satellites in low Earth orbit numbers 74 spacecraft, with hundreds of others planned to be launched. The first six OneWeb satellites were launched on February 28, 2019 from the Guiana Space Center (French Guiana) using the Soyuz-ST launch vehicle and the Fregat upper stage. Another 34 satellites were launched into orbit on February 7 and March 22, 2020 from the Baikonur cosmodrome using Soyuz-2.1b rockets and Fregat upper stages. The upcoming launch should bring the number of OneWeb satellites in Earth orbit to 110 units.

LEO OneWeb spacecraft are designed to provide terrestrial consumers with high-speed Internet directly via satellite communications.

 

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"Роскосмос" заключил договор на техпроект ракеты для полетов на Луну - РИА Новости, 16.12.2020 (ria.ru)

"Roscosmos"A contract worth about 1.5 billion rubles for the development of a technical project of the yenisei-class super-heavy launch vehicle for flights to the Moon, follows from the materials of the state corporation, posted on the website of state procurement.
The contract between Roscosmos and the Progress Rocket and Space Center, worth 1.47 billion rubles, signed on December 15, provides for "the development of a technical project of a space rocket complex with a super-heavy launch vehicle and a booster unit" by mid-November 2021."


new generation of small satellites? Просто в космос: ученые РАН создают прорывной двигатель для спутников (yandex.ru)

Just into space: RAS scientists create a breakthrough engine for satellites
It will use metal-dielectric plates as fuel, the supply of which will last for 10 years of autonomous operation.
Denis Gritsenko
January 13, 2021

Russian scientists have proposed a qualitatively new type of engine for work in outer space. It is based on the principle of plasma excitation using a microwave spark discharge. Such a unit can be installed on small-format satellites. Unlike the gas-fueled satellite engines common today, the new device will use special metal-dielectric plates as an energy source, the supply of which will be enough for 10 years of autonomous operation. A plate with a radius of 10 cm can replace 1.5 thousand cubic meters of gas fuel. In the future, new engines can be used to explore the solar system.

Small but smart

Scientists of the Institute of General Physics named after A.M. Prokhorov Russian Academy of Sciences are ready to create a prototype of a new type of engine for operation in outer space. According to their idea, the movement should occur due to the use of a new type of discharge described by them, which arises in a gaseous medium as a result of the action of microwave radiation. Physicists called it the microwave spark discharge (MIR).

- The engine offered by us has a number of advantages. The main one is that a metal-dielectric disk is used as a solid fuel in the system, '' said Igor Kossyi, head of the laboratory of gas-kinetic phenomena in the microwave discharge of the GPI RAS.

With the help of MIR, it is possible to act on a metal-dielectric material in such a way as to excite a plasma, which will propel the aircraft forward. The power of such an engine will be relatively small, but sufficient for driving in a vacuum. Therefore, the developers propose to start using it on light small-scale near-earth satellites, which are in demand today in Russia and in the world.

The source of electromagnetic radiation in the new engine can be a standard magnetron used in conventional microwave ovens. The dimensions of the equipment are 50x50x100 cm, weight - 2 kg. The cost price of the new unit is about € 1 thousand.

The engine requires a metal dielectric plate as fuel. For example, a Plexiglas disk 10 cm in diameter and 2 cm thick can serve as a source of 1.5 thousand cubic meters of gas, which is necessary for plasma generation. Solid fuel will significantly reduce the size of the satellite due to the part of it that stores the gas in cylinders used today for the movement of spacecraft. According to the calculations of the GPI RAS specialists, the supply of the fuel dielectric on board the small spacecraft may be sufficient for 10 years of autonomous operation.

The complexity of the implementation of the proposed engine and its analogs - in a relatively weak thrust. The power of the mechanical impulse that the satellite acquires as a result of the operation of the device is small. But the authors of the development have an idea how to enhance this characteristic. Current calculations of mechanical impulse have been made from a motor design in which microwave radiation is applied directly to a metal-dielectric surface. If the microwaves arrive at the plasma-generating surface, passing through the radio-transparent thickness of the dielectric disk, in theory this can significantly increase the mechanical impulse. But the hypothesis has yet to be confirmed during the experiment.

Wait for the tests

Experts in the field of space technology, interviewed by Izvestia, reacted to the proposed technical solution of the GPI RAS with cautious optimism. From their point of view, the idea of a plasma engine is interesting, but for the final assessment, you need to wait for its embodiment "in hardware".

“The concept of the engine proposed by Russian scientists has an important advantage: the working fluid in it is initially in a solid, not a liquefied state,” said Alexei Baigashev, head of the Astronomical Society of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University.

According to the expert, all other things being equal to the engine, this will significantly reduce the volume occupied by the fuel, simplify storage, transportation and preparation of the spacecraft for launch. The key issue is testing the stated concept in a real spacecraft. Probably, after the development of a new engine and its ground tests, the researchers will launch a test microsatellite, which, with its low mass and cost of launching into orbit, will allow to fully study the operation of the propulsion system in real conditions.

“Implementation of an ion engine with such a plasma source requires a constructive solution and testing in experiments,” noted Oleg Tsybin, professor at the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University's Higher Engineering and Physics School (the university is a participant in the 5-100 education competitiveness project).

We need practical solutions to the problems of materials and technology of a solid surface, its resistance, destruction, thermodynamics, the type and acceleration of ions, their neutralization, the expert explained. After solving them, the advantages and disadvantages of the engine and its capabilities will be more clear.

Adjust trajectory

It is possible that the MIR engines will be useful in a situation when it is necessary to save chemical fuel and correct the ballistic trajectory for a long flight time, believes Alexander Efremov, director of the Educational and Scientific Institute of Gravity and Cosmology of the RUDN University.

“However, so far we have no data on their parameters and capabilities,” he said.

The advantage of a potential installation based on a microwave spark discharge, if it is operational, is an accelerated flight to various celestial bodies without the consumption of a working medium, or with minimal consumption. However, such a technical solution still raises questions, since it has never been practically implemented, said Denis Malygin, candidate of technical sciences, chief designer of the Astronomicon laboratory and employee of the Department of Photonics at ETU LETI. Experimental data do not unequivocally confirm or refute the performance of such an installation, this is due, among other things, to the small value of the expected effect, comparable to the measurement errors, the expert noted.

Such engines with ionic thrust are applicable only in space vacuum and cannot move vehicles through the atmosphere, Denis Malygin argues, since ion engines do not work in the presence of ions outside the engine. Such devices have a high power consumption (1–7 kW), and power generation on small satellites is very limited. Moreover, to achieve acceleration, a new type of engine requires a long work, which again brings back to the question of satellite power, he added.

- Interesting idea. It can find application in shunting engines, which are used in the orientation and stabilization systems of spacecraft, ”said Anastasia Khramtsova, head of the Aerospace Systems direction of the FEFU design center.

For propulsion engines, the declared thrust is very low, she said. The question is how much energy is needed for the installation to work - this is a decisive factor when choosing an engine for a satellite.
 

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